Legal and Ethics

Navigate the legal and ethical landscape.

Legal and Ethics

Navigate the legal and ethical landscape.

Legal Resources: Reproductive Law in Canada

Federal Law Restricting Payment to Donors and Surrogates

Assisted reproduction is the only medical service in Canada that is governed by federal law.  The Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) was introduced in 2004 and includes Regulations that impact patients seeking to use a donor or surrogate.

While AHRA does not prohibit practices like surrogacy, egg donation, embryo donation, or sperm donation, it does impose restrictions on certain activities related to them, including the payment of surrogates and donors. One of the consequences of this is that the availability of egg, sperm, and embryo donors is more scarce in Canada than in other countries like the United States.  One intent of the law is to prevent commercialization and exploitation of donors and surrogates. Review the legal resources below.

Provincial Law Concerning Declaration of Parentage

Another area of importance to patients are laws concerning parentage, which can impact lesbian couples and those using a surrogate.  Parentage is  determined by the laws in the province in which the child is born.  In Ontario, thanks to the All Families are Equal Act, declarations of parentage or second parent adoptions are no longer necessary to register the child's birth in the intended parent's name. However, in cases where a gestational carrier or surrogate is used, a legal process must be followed to establish parentage.

Legal Agreements to Support Donor and Surrogacy Arrangements

Having a reproductive lawyer draft an agreement between parties involved in a donor or surrogacy arrangement is important to protect all parties.

Scenarios that Require a Lawyer

We have provided a number of scenarios in which the intended parent should consult with a lawyer before proceeding with a donor or surrogacy arrangement.

Lawyers with Reproductive, Fertility, and Family Law Experience

There are a number of reproductive lawyers in the greater Toronto area that can assist you in your journey to create a family.  Markham Fertility Centre provides these names your information, but does not endorse any one practitioner or claim to provide an exhaustive list. It is important that you find one that is right for you and your unique circumstance. Review the legal resources below.

Ethical Considerations and Resources

Whether you are a patient, doctor, employee, family member, donor, or surrogate, ethical questions come up from time to time and it is helpful to have trained resources to assist in our decision making.

Ethics Committee

Markham Fertility Centre is proud to partner with Dr Rebecca Greenberg, a highly respected and experienced bioethicist who is familiar with the challenges of assisted reproduction and medial ethics. Dr Greenberg leads our ethics committee where she assists the clinic and staff in navigating challenging scenarios.  Patients should be assured in knowing that Markham Fertility Centre has a process for managing complex scenarios whether they be related to a new procedure, patient scenarios, or just questions related to the day to day aspects of assisted reproduction.

Patient Support 

Dr Greenberg is also available to meet with patients and family one-on-one for a personal consultation.  While a relatively new service for patients, we believe that having access to a bioethicist can assist patients in making difficult decisions.  Some scenarios that might require a sounding board include:

  • Making decisions about the disposition of your eggs, sperm and/or embryos
  • Uncertainty about use of donor eggs, sperm or embryos
  • Uncertainty about donating eggs or sperm
  • Uncertainty about being a gestational carrier or using one
  • Addressing conflict with a partner, family member, or clinician
  • Communicating with family and offspring about conception choices
  • Decisions regarding termination of a pregnancy
  • Reconciling cultural and religion tensions with fertility treatments

These are just a few areas where a bioethicist may help provide clarity in your decision making, in addition to the resources that are already available to you including your family, friends, support groups, counsellors, fertility specialist and family doctor.

Dr Greenberg is apart of Markham Fertility ethical resources

Dr Greenberg is a nurse and bioethicist with two decades of experience in healthcare. Dr Greenberg has spent most of her career working in variety of settings including the hospital sector, child welfare, and long term care, with a focus in academic hospitals including The Hospital for Sick Children and Sinai Health. She is committed to helping individuals and organizations navigate ethically difficult decisions. Dr Greenberg has acted as a Chair and Vice-Chair to several Research Ethics Boards. Dr. Greenberg has a proven track record in research as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto. She developed and directed The Fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Ethics with the Toronto Centre for Neonatal Health and the University of Toronto – the first of its kind in Canada. Dr Greenberg is committed to education and sharing her research through speaking internationally, publishing research papers, editing books, and being featured in the media.

Learn more about Dr Greenberg by visiting her website.


Additional Resources Provided by MFC

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Lifestyle and Wellness

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right track


Comprehensive overview of costs associated with fertility treatments

Common Questions

You are making a significant investment in your family's future. A reproductive or family lawyer can be a vital asset, saving you time and energy, while making sure you stay on the right side of the legislation.